I finally broke my cherry, and not only did I go to my first EB Expo, it was also my first gaming convention. Get around me. Yet my first time left me feeling somewhat conflicted. I should have been feeling excited that I was able to play of buffet of high-profile games before release, instead I had concerns over some of the titles I have been hyped for.
First on the list is Homefront: The Revolution. If any of you know me personally, you will know that one game I am mad keen for is the upcoming sequel to Homefront. While some punters were lining up for hours to get their hands on Halo 5, Assassin’s Creed or The Division, I was mentally salivating at the chance to go hands-on Dambsuter Studios and Deep Silver’s upcoming Homefront: The Revolution.
The small piece of gameplay I got to have a crack at was around fifteen minutes long, and instantly I recognised it as the same level as the Gamescom playthrough from this year. Within about three minutes of my hands-on I could tell the demo was a pre-alpha build, as frame-rate stutters and AI glitches littered the demo. While I’ll be reserving my final judgement for the official released product, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed as troves of gamers in front of me couldn’t understand the demo’s lack of polish.
In Homefront’s defence there was no big presentation, no briefing, it was simply line up and wait for someone to pass the sweaty controller to you. Given the game’s rocky history this was quite fitting that the demo offered had issues. The mechanics themselves were quite tight, and except for some over-sensitive motorbike handling, the game played quite well. The issues were clearly just with how the game ran.
These creases can easily be ironed out prior to launch, I have full belief that that the game will run smoothly on all platforms at launch, sometime in 2016.
Next on the list was Just Cause 3, a series I have had no experience with previously, yet the sheer ability to create as much chaos as possible had me intrigued. The preview build available was purely based around encouraging the player to cause as much carnage as possible with a rocket launcher, in a destruction challenge map. The player was given an array of artillery to inflict as much damage within the time frame allowed.
While this wasn’t the demo I’d hoped for (I would have much preferred a campaign mission or free roam), it definitely gave me an insight into the mechanics. The grappling hook is definitely an excellent addition, and while it defies the laws of physics, it makes traversing the landscape easy and fun. The controller scheme was intuitive and made for a relatively seamless learning experience.
My other most anticipated game along with Homefront: The Revolution is Quantum Break. While this game wasn’t playable, we were still treated to a 20 minute presentation, highlighting the gameplay and live-action tie-in. I’ll be writing a bigger a preview of Quantum Break in the coming days, keep an eye out for that.
The final game I wish to talk about is EA’s Need for Speed. After months and months of awaiting the chance to play the game, the Sydney showground provided the perfect opportunity to jump into the driver’s seat of Ghost Games’ reboot.
I’m not a huge racing gamer guy, yet I do like a good arcade racer. Ridge Racer, Burnout and of course, Need for Speed in the past have provided me with enough fun without having to be Mark Webber to play.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Need for Speed is an arcade racer with a breadth of customisable options available. The slice of game we were treated to at the expo was definitely fun, but I was confused at what I was meant to be doing. This was probably due to not paying attention to the announcer. The demo kicked off with a sprint race, which almost instantly I was wiped out by some hoon thinking he was auditioning for the next Fast and the Furious film. I recovered and a few checkpoints later I wiped out again, yet restarting this time there were no checkpoints to be found. Thinking I’d made a wrong turn somewhere and missed a checkpoint I backtracked only to find myself back at the start. With frustration setting in and my ego bruised, I decided to just burn rubber and find the local blockie route. It was here I experienced a section of the open-world city in the game. Suavely drifting around corners and evading the local authorities, I found the handling of the cars and the tone of the game to be a lot of fun. It’s likely that we were given a taste of the game with better cars than what you’ll begin with. It wasn’t until the last couple minutes of my hands-on that I realised we were actually in a challenge competition. Points were awarded for things such as drifts, near misses and high speeds. Surprisingly, yours truly finished third, get around me.
The playthrough has built on my excitement for the game, and having played the game in the closed beta (still running now) the whole live-action sequences work really well with the game’s setting. I’ll definitely be picking this up on launch.
Overall my first time at the EB Expo was a memorable one. I had a lot of fun mingling with other gamers and getting a look at some of the upcoming games first-hand gave me a proper insight into what to expect from them when they launch. If you get the chance I recommend you attend the expo, it’s something all gamers should do at least once.